How to conquer understanding spoken French.
I'm learning French and I have discovered that the most difficult part of learning the language is understanding what other's are saying. If someone were to type or write something, I would understand it but if they were to say it, my understanding would go out the door. The words just sound so similar and even when I hear it slowly I still can't make out the words. I manage to figure out what the speaker has said 3-4 sentences after that one. So any tips?
I do it by listening to media dubbed in French without subtitles. Being dubbed, it is scripted and recorded in an isloted and controlled environment, so one can understand it better. It will be very difficult at first but your brain and ears will adapt and start making sense of it all the more the longer you do it.
Then when you feel more comfortable with that, you can start listening to non-dubbed media, which is spoken comparatively faster and more naturally.
The key to succeeding at this is to do it all WITHOUT subtitles. You do not need to understand everything that is being said, you just need to focus on visualising them, and being able to recognise the words being spoken.
Yes, it is just a question of time. Getting rid of subtitles at this stage may be a bit hard, though. Some people have suggested to first watch films you already know very well in French with English subtitles, then with French subtitles, then without subtitles. In a second time, you can watch French films, with a more normal flow, indeed. You start with slow-paced dramas, then you watch comedies.
Any suggestions on some free dubbed (not subtitled) media out there? Great idea!
I normally go to a local store and get discounted DVDs and/or T.V. series. On the back covers, it should say in which languages the audio and the subtitles are in.
A word of caution:
The audio tracks' dialogue and that of the corresponding languages' subtitle tracks rarely match up verbatim, if at all. Most of the time, it seems like separate translators are used for the dialogue and the subtitles respectively. So while they say something, the subtitles may be saying the same thing, but in different words.
The way it works for me was step 1 - lean the alphabets, how each letter sounds in french, then learn phonétique, how oi, ou, u, ei, ai, s and ss, d and t, and many other sounds, then learn the rules of liaisons and enchaînement.
Step 2. Dictation. This site lets you practice dictation for free https://speechling.com/dictation/french At first I couldn't hear a thing, but now I could write 7 out of 10 sentences without too much trouble. I'm still at the beginner level though. So I'm a long way to go but I see real progress.
Step 3. Listen. This site allows you to listen to all sorts of radio programs around the world.
I have Manu Dans le 6/9 on around the clock. His program is great because sometimes they speak really fast, sometimes really slow.;they repeat things; they ask questions; they tell jokes, and they don't often talk over each other. So you can hear most words clearly. Of course, I listen and watch a ton of other stuff but I listen to this religiously since it has a year worth of episodes. You can also listen to it on youtube too.
Oh, and if you're going to sign up for an account on speechling.com, use the code F28602. From what I understand, having that code in place, you will get 10% lifetime discount, meaning it's not a one-time thing. Whenever you want to pay for the monthly membership, you get 10%. The dictation is FREE though.
Does speechling have a rule about the number of accounts logged in to different devices? I'd be happy to give my account to others, as long as I know them and their motives some more :)
If you only want to do the dictation, does it stay free or do you reach a point where you have to sign up.
I have used the Anki deck too but it didn't work well for me because it just says the sentence and the only option I have is "show Answer." Pretty much the same as watching a TV show with subtitles.
I like speechling because I can write down what I hear and "check Answer." It tells me what I have right and I continue to figure out what I have wrong. It also has the "slow" version. So I'm actively working on the sentence, on a specific sound I have a time hearing. It's not a guessing game.
It also organizes the sentences by levels and topics. I finished the Beginner level but feel the Immediate is too hard. So I'm doing the topics now. I feel I have options, and I can train my ears one word at a time, one phrase at a time. At the time I'm working on my spelling ability too :-)
Yeah. Here's a kicker for you. The site just became a paid site a few weeks ago. It was completely free and whoever was using the site back then can continue to use the site free forever. So I personally will never have to pay :-)
The paid portion is quite awesome but I'm not confident in my speaking skill to fully use it yet. There are thousands of sentences where you can hear a native speaks, then repeat and record yourself. Within 24 hours someone will let you know whether you spoke correctly, any words need to be corrected. It's really awesome. There are also images to describe and questions to answer verbally, all recorded and be assessed. I can see that if you do 10-20 images/questions a day, you could become fluent pretty quickly. However, I'm not ready for anyone to judge my speaking skill just yet. I'm not brave enough. Haha. So I want to focus on dictation first.
Oh my, I have no tourist plans yet. My goal is to be able to read books and watch French movies. I started leaning French after my Math advisor sent me a paper in French. Several French mathemeticians have contributed to the area I am studying. That gave me the impetus, but I would also love to be able to read Camus and Sartre in the original language, and France is known for a vibrant film industry, of which I have seen a few with subtitles.
At this point I don't concern myself with speaking, or writing either. I would only need to speak as a tourist and my thinking is that once you reach a good level in hearing you can probably speak well enough with just a little more work.
I don't know about you but I found speaking skill doesn't automatically improve along with listening skill and vice versa. I would have to work on both because speaking skill requires my ability to recall words, conjugate verbs, and grammar rules quickly to put together a sentence. It's a skill that is completely different from recognizing spoken words someone else speaks.
Speak as a tourist? How long will you be a tourist? I wouldn't have the patience to learn a language just to travel for a few weeks. Learning a language is good though, so whatever motivates you to learn is good :-)
That's awesome. I'm learning for fun so I don't have any real goal to reach.
This is a weird advice but do you use Twitter? I have a Twitter account and slowly accumulate a lot of french speaking activities on my feed. I have subscribed to French mathemeticians, astronomers, journalists, teachers and other learners. I find it very good to upgrade my vocabulary.
Listening to a lot of spoken French, on Youtube videos where you understand the context.
Documentaries are easy to understand.
Special Trick: Youtube has a search filter to only get videos with subtitles.
Do not forget to learn french slang. ( verlan.. and argot ). They are using it a lot
Not everyone. Colloquial French is a good start; slang and verlan are not immediately necessary. People will not be able to refrain from using colloquial French when they speak to a foreigner, but they will certainly not use slang and verlan. Also, verlan does not make one sound smart. Most people using a few words of verlan in their daily language are actually doing it for fun. It has become a fashion to pretend to speak like the dumbest people. I would not recommend anyone learning French to use verlan. It may be good to understand a few very common words, though, like 'véner' (for 'énervé'), 'mifa' ('famille'), etc, but really, it is not something to imitate.
Do you know any sites that dedicate to teach familiar french? Are there grammar rules to familiar french? It seems most people just teach full phrases and want you to repeat until you remember them.
I wouldn't worry too much about that if you haven't finished the tree yet, as without at least having decent grip on grammar and syntax, plus without at least the amount of vocab that you get from the tree, you will probably struggle quite a bit. This site should get you to about a solid B level (~B1 by the time you finish the tree, closer to B2 once you top out at 25). A significant amount of extra vocab (and effort) will be required to get to C. But as a starting point, you could try "Les Journaux en Francais Facile" at rfi.fr (down the bottom under 'ecouter'). They have news podcasts and the "facile" version is somewhat slowed and simplified to cater to intermediate students of the language. They even do a 'word of the week' segment once a week where they explain a phrase/word (usually a colloquialism/something with multiple meanings) in depth. Kids shows are pretty good too (like Caillou) to help ease the transition curve. Hope this helps. Have fun and don't forget to enjoy the journey (a plan doesn't hurt either...). Best of luck.
The funny thing about solid B is that when I finished the tree I thought I was at level B too, but a year later, after learning a lot more grammar, vocabulary, expressions, etc, I'm not quite sure I'm there yet. I visite TV5Monde A1 and realized I still struggle going through it. So it appears different people/different sites think differently about where level B is.
Should buddy, should. Should is not is. Although, fair call on my statement, it's probably a bit too broad. Speed, and breadth of comprehension of real-time conversation only come with exposure to it, is probably one of the hardest skills to attain when learning a language and you most definitely don't get that here (unless you join a user convo group). Obviously if you step balls deep into an immersion type exercise and you're ill-prepared, you won't do well. The level of those exercises is good, as only a broad understanding is expected, and they do give native exposure - which is excellent. This site could give you a pretty good grounding, considering the amount of time spent. But it should be noted that it would be best used as an adjunct to a more comprehensive approach. Looks like your English is doing great though, although I doubt trying to learn all the languages of a hyper-polyglot at the same time is a good strategy to actually be any good at any of them. Best of luck with your studies, you'll get there in the end.